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Travelogue D6

April 22, 2015

The third day opened, like the one before, in the swaying metro, more open that its Parisian counterparts. After a journey with no few changeovers, I found myself in the lower districts of the Presqu’île where the area proves a strange mix of empty lot and constructions both new and destined for tearing down. In a restaurant off the shopping center, I took my lunch and contemplated the cipher scrawled upon a blackboard to one side of the dining room, a sequence of numbers: 4 5 9 8 16 11 _ . As I have made a habit of the circuitous and searching, I tried out various relations and increasingly improbable solutions which came to mind before settling on 25. In leaving, I remarked to no one in particular that the interest of the puzzle lies in the posing rather than the solving.

I then set my sights on Musée de la Confluence, which had recently supplanted several older museums as the science and natural history center of the city. The way was long and passed between empty lots to either side, in differing states of disrepair. It seemed that the circus had come to occupy the eastern, a gravel storage site the western. Upon arrival, the queue was predictably long, the wind cold, and I sought a windbreak in the crowd. Pulsed in and at last past the desk, I made my way upstairs and hesitated for a moment between the temporary and permanent exhibitions, the latter being divided between four different sections: origins, animality, culture, death. I stuck with the latter; the temporary exhibitions with their curiosity cabinets and traveler’s collections would have to wait.

Predictably enough, I began with the Origins section, which opens with the presentation of three different human species formerly present in different parts of the world. No further explanation of Homo sapiens’ rise over the others is given. The omission proves somewhat chilling, for the most likely explanation would seem extermination. I moved on, weaving between fossilized remains and children, tracing humanity’s evolutionary path via means of a three-dimensional model and minimalist cartoons of a cell.

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